Three volunteers qualify as Deputy Launching Authority for Fowey RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

Three Fowey RNLI volunteers have passed out as a fully qualified Deputy Launching Authority (DLAs) at Fowey lifeboat station.

Fowey RNLI

Adam Luck

As volunteer DLAs, Kathy Ogg, Adam Luck and Richard Jeffery are responsible for authorising the launch of the Fowey lifeboats.

Kathy Ogg said: ‘I did my training in my first year, when it was a five day course in Poole. What I enjoyed most about the training was an opportunity to talk about different launch scenarios with other DLAs. I am still in touch with several of those people across the country. I was approached by the station to do the DLA role. I have been on the water since I was a young child, have helped others multiple times while afloat and called the lifeboat for others. Knowing you’re sending help to someone afloat and in a tricky spot is rewarding, the outcome is not always successful but I know the team we are sending have trained hard and will do everything possible.’

When a 999 emergency call is made to the coastguard, they request assistance from the relevant lifeboat station. It is the job of the Launch Authority or the DLA on duty to authorise the launching of either the inshore or all-weather lifeboat.

Kathy continues: ‘When my phone and pager goes the noise is LOUD and unmistakable. In the middle of the night you’re awake, as is the entire household, in seconds - first thought, is it me on duty? Where is the light, glasses, phone, what time is it, what was the weather/tide information I checked before I went to bed, all in less than 15 secs. Day time, its a quick stop what I am doing (anything from cooking, working, on the loo, out for meal, out for a walk, driving, sailing) and straight on the quick dial to Falmouth while finding shoes, keys and taking details, while running through my head what the weather, tide is, does this need to be immediate launch or can we make good time, am I making the right decision to launch and send the crew to sea…..Lots more noise from making the decision to summon the crew, quick dial to the station to pass the details while now getting to the station myself. There is always a lack of information, or the situation is evolving, balancing what information you have along side your local knowledge of the area, conditions and the legal responsibility in the decision to say yes to the launch.’

Kathy concludes: ‘My Dad is the Lifeboat Operations Manager for Fowey station, he and I started in the same week. I am also on the local Coastguard team so juggle two pagers. It’s a family joke about how many cold pizzas and dinners are delivered to my house in a box while the rest of the family are finishing their meal out and paying (!) while I leave a restaurant to attend a call out.’

DLAs provide leadership in the absence of the Lifeboat Operations Manager or as delegated and help to ensure that all operational activities are carried out to maintain the station’s lifeboats and all associated equipment in a constant state of readiness for launching on service.

Describing his role as a DLA, Adam Luck said: ‘The training encouraged us to consider live scenarios and how we would respond and I find the more experience gained the better the reaction. It was also an excellent reminder of just how many RNLI resources there are available to help with our role and where to find them. I particularly like the close involvement with the crew and operations team and feeling part of the station. I volunteered because after 40 years of mostly working away from Fowey, I am now able to do something worthwhile in the community and I am lucky enough to have been brought up on the sea and around boats. My wife Jilly says I go into a flat spin when the pager goes off and take several attempts to leave for the boathouse with my pager, phone, keys, note pad, VHF all intact! As my two children are on the crew we inevitably meet on the way. The adrenaline certainly kicks in and I try and be calm and clear thinking and get all the relevant details from the Coastguard and then communicate the tasking request to the crew and get to the Boathouse to oversee the launch.’

Fowey lifeboat station is currently looking for more DLAs. If you would like to find out more information about the role or to apply, please look online at http://volunteering.rnli.org/vacancy/deputy-launching-authority---fowey-491193.html or contact Fowey Lifeboat Operations Manager Chris Ogg at [email protected]

Commenting on his role, Richard Jeffery said: ‘The thing I like about being a DLA is being involved with great people and seeing them respond with amazing professionalism to any challenge they are given. I volunteered as a DLA because I wanted to do something, involving the sea, in the local community that enabled me to use my past experience in a manner that was interesting for me. In the past I’ve been a master mariner on ships up to 150,000 tonnes trading all over the world and I subsequently ran businesses in the UK, the Middle East and the Far East, all with an element of marine involvement.

‘When the pager goes off my heart misses a beat and then I quickly settle into a routine of calling the Falmouth Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) and listening to them describe the situation and make their request for RNLI assistance. This is always followed with a quick exchange of questions before I decide which asset or assets we are going task. At the end of the discussion I ask them to make the necessary launching page to the crew. This total conversation is usually less than 2 minutes long and it’s important to be fully alert throughout; this can be challenging especially in the middle of the night when you have just been woken by your pager. By the time the call is over I am on my way by foot towards the boathouse.

About a minute after the launching page I phone the boathouse and brief the helm or cox on the tasking and if necessary discuss any crewing issues and then I authorise the launching of the boat. Once at the boathouse I monitor the launch and the full evolution of the tasking request.

'I see the RNLI as, primarily, an essential lifesaving organisation but it also provides a great focus within the local community and helps to give everyone involved a real sense of purpose.’

Fowey RNLI

Kathy Ogg

Fowey RNLI

Fowey DLA Richard Jeffery

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.

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